2015 Commencement Remarks & Prizes

August 17, 2015


by Martin Jean, director

For the last year or two or three, you have sat quietly listening to your teachers lecture on and on about good posture, correct hand position, the difference between lapsarian and supralapsarian, about breathing techniques and downbeat placement, diapasons and mean-tone tuning. Some of you even heard about early fingerings (God spare you). You have been scolded for not knowing your notes in rehearsal and for not knowing the difference between the Q source and the P source. You’ve even been chewed out for texting during colloquium!

But now, these incessant voices are about go quiet because one of the things that happens at commencement is that our voices recede and yours begin to be heard.

So I ask you, what will you say? And to whom will you say it?

You might recall my referencing John W. O’Malley’s book Four Cultures of the West at the first colloquium of the year. I relayed his observation that there are at least four cultures or four voices (actually many more) that one can easily identify in the so-called “West.” He pointed us to the Prophetic Voice that cries in the wilderness to “prepare the way” or announces that she “has a dream.” He named the Scholarly Voice, articulating the thorny problems of life to describe, analyze, and critique. There is the voice of the Orator, the Poet, the Storyteller, holding the mirror up to life to revel not in analysis but in ambiguity. The voice of the Performer leads the Veterans’ Day parade or the temple prayer; she might star in the four-act opera or preside at mass; it is this voice that creates our built environment and turns stone to sculpture.

So which voice is yours?

Obviously, you might be all of these voices and none. Instead, you might take on one of a hundred other voices.  But likely, because of the voices that have whispered in your ear here, you might speak with any of these voices when the time is right.

You have been immersed in “voices” or influences all your life (and these are not limited to oral discourse, but include the whole world of sound, touch, color, image, taste, and smell). They have been the voices of your mentors, to be sure, but they have also been the voices of your parishioners, the singers in your choir, the responses from your audience, the voice of the caregiver at the health plan or the worker in the refectory, the housekeeper or the person you sit next to on the bus. I would be willing to bet in these last years, you have gained wisdom and insight from more than one of these “voices.” They have been the food in your belly, the milk in your mouth from the first day of your life. They have been like the water that bathes you, the air that streams into your nostrils. They are voices that course through your very veins, and that wrap themselves through you like strands of DNA. They make up the very core of your being now.

Just know this, that all of these voices you hold so dear, you will learn to sift through and use with wisdom when you see injustice in the world or a loved one in distress, or whenever your heart turns in compassion to the marginalized and forgotten or in anger to the one who holds power wrongly. You will proclaim, entreat, denounce, deny, cajole, console, forgive. You will love through fingers that play, arms that cue, voices that preach or lift in song, pens that lay the words on the page, brushes that shape the images, bodies that heal. You will learn that though you can never deploy your whole self, you can always call on the voices that have raised you and direct them with wisdom to the mission at hand.

For each of you, my wish is that your voice be one of blessing and peace. 

Photos from Commencement Exercises at Yale Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music, May 17-18, 2015. All photos by Katharine Luce. 


2015 Prizes and Scholarships


The Hugh Giles Prize | Brendan Fitzgerald and Patrick Murray

The Hugh Porter Prize | Maximilian Holman

The Edwin Stanley Seder Prize | Jamilah George

The Aidan Kavanagh Achievement Prize | Peter Thompson

The Director’s Prize (best Colloquium presentation)
Kenyon Adams and Joanna Murdoch & Edmund Milly

The Richard Paul DeLong Prize | Christian Crocker and Robert Bennesh

The Faculty Prize |Emilie Coakley and Jon Seals

The Margot Fassler Prize in the Performance of Sacred Music
Patrick Kreeger, Michael Weinberg, and Sarah Yanovitch

The Liturgical Studies Prize | Sydney Thomas

Students’ Choice for Best Colloquium Presentation
Joanna Murdoch & Edmund Milly

The Robert Baker Scholarship | Jacob Street

The Mary Baker Scholarship in Organ Accompanying | George Fergus

The Hugh Porter Scholarship | Nola Richardson and Adam Perez

The E. Stanley Seder Scholarship | Sarah Paquet

The Louise E. MacLean Scholarship | Oana Marian

The Dominique de Menil Scholarship | Jeremy Hamilton-Arnold

ISM Community Award | Joanna Murdoch